Early FAFSA submission can help students financially

January 06, 2015

A popular New Year’s resolution that many people pledge is to take a better care of their health, especially by shedding a few pounds. Close behind is a resolution to save money. We make resolutions as we reflect on our past year’s habits and address those we wish to change.

Daad Rizk, Penn State’s financial literacy coordinator, has a New Year’s resolution for students and parents related to educational finances to set them on the right track financially for the rest of the year: Students should complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) early in 2015. Making and keeping this resolution sets studnts’ financial planning in motion to accomplish the following financial goals:

Grants and scholarships: Completing the FAFSA early could help students in search for grants and scholarships. The search for free money is not just for new students. There are other options available for current college students, too. Some grants are limited in funds and they are awarded on first-come, first serve basis.

Get ahead on paying taxes: A correctly completed FAFSA requires the review of the prior tax year, even if tax forms are not filed until the due date of April 15. It is highly recommended to file tax forms prior to the FAFSA if you wish to import tax information using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This helps students and parents review taxable income and formulate a new financial plan that meets your specific needs early in the New Year.

Planning for the year ahead: The best time to review a budget or create a new one is immediately after reviewing your finances for the prior year. Tracking your income and expenses allows you to identify spontaneous spending and re-direct any wasted money to a saving or an investment account. As you review your student’s budget, check out your housing and meal situation, your books, supplies and personal needs for the upcoming year. Review your student’s loans, and make sure you are not borrowing beyond your ability to pay back after graduation.   

The Penn State Office of Student Aid has created a FAFSA timeline of events to help students stay on track and keep your “paws” on your money.

Last Updated January 06, 2015